The good, the bad, and the Bond: Re-evaluating 007 – The World is Not Enough
HAVING taken down cyber-hackers and Television News, we move on to Bond’s biggest threat yet: Begbie from Trainspotting. Fun fact about this one: Peter Jackson was considered to direct it after Barbara Broccoli watch Heavenly Creatures; then she watched The Frighteners and decided to rescind the offer. I’m now pushing for the next Bond to be Andy Serkis and it to be split into five parts. Anyway, on with the review.
Andrew Simpson: When we sit down to watch a Bond film we know what to expect. There’s a reliable collection of elements that make up these films that many of us know and love. The World is Not Enough doesn’t differ from this trend and we are treated to a solid Bond film that doesn’t change anything drastic from those that came before it. But then, why bother fixing something that isn’t broken?
This, the 19th edition of the Bond franchise, is both immersive and enjoyable. It’s great fun and director Michael Apted has created something that stands the test of time and enabled the sequences within the film to seamlessly transition in a production that has a surprisingly large amount of character-driven plot. The opening sequences are some of the best parts of the film, hurling you straight into the action with what could be called the most elaborate opening to a Bond film yet. This is followed by the excellent action scenes that we come to expect from Bond films, a large amount of puns, wacky gadgets and all the other elements we love. It’s enough to captivate you right off the bat.
A big highlight of this film for me was the casting of Robert Carlyle as the terrorist villain Renard. I’m a big fan of Carlyle and he brings his knowledgeable skill set to the role and provides us with some memorable bad guy scenes that we can look back on with fondness. Brosnan continues to deliver as Bond and is a pleasure to watch on screen. He continues to pay the role as it was meant to be played in a charismatic and engaging way but adds a bit more aggression to his temperament this time round – perhaps a nod in the direction of the original books.
The casting of Sophie Marceau as Elektra King was also an excellent choice, with Marceau providing an engaging aspect of the film that is a core part of the film’s success. With the other Bond girl Denise Richards also fulfilling the role of a Bond girl very well. Coltrane’s role as Russian ally Zukovsky also provides an excellent performance in a comedic style that is a worthy addition.
The humour in the film is something that comes across strongly, more so than other Bond films in the franchise. We are introduced to John Cleese for the first time as Q-in-waiting “R” as we see a slightly different take on the beloved gadget-chief Desmond Llewelyn who makes his final appearance and a character that brings his own unique style of humour to the franchise – something to look forward to in the films ahead. All-in-all, This is a solid chapter in the Bond franchise, with Apted providing us with a successful outing, particularly in the action and character development departments. The film provides us with everything we love about Bond, it’s fun, exciting and engaging. What more do we need?
Jozef Raczka: Apparently the answer to Andrew’s question of ‘what more did we need’ was Dr. Christmas Jones. Dr. Christmas goddamn Jones. The World is Not Enough starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond and Denise Richards, the Two-Time (Two-Time!) Razzie Award Nominee in her star-making performance as Dr. Christmas. Jones. In a post-coital haze, Bond turns to Dr. Christmas Jones and actually utters the words, “I thought Christmas only came once a year”.
That happens, and it’s the last line of the fucking film, as if everyone is going to stand up and Citizen Kane clap the shit out of another cum pun. Dr. Christmas Jones, you are everything that’s wrong with the Brosnan era wrapped up in a (damnit, I just threw in a Christmas pun didn’t I?) bow; it’s like Michael G. Wilson turned round to Barbara Broccoli and said: “You know what everyone’s favourite Bond film was? That weird sixties Casino Royale. You know, the self-aware parody one. What if we made that again but, instead of having umpteen Bonds, let’s have Drum N’ Bass legend Goldie as a Russian heavy.
“And why not replace the beloved Desmond Llewelyn (for whom this was heartbreakingly, his final film) with John Cleese and DR. CHRISTMAS JONES?!” You know what feels even more insulting? Roger Ebert gave this 3 ½ out of 4 stars. Now, as a reviewer, I try to remain objective to assume that this is just my opinion, but Christ, how can someone declare this film be only a stone’s throw away from perfection? Sorry, maybe I need to calm down for a second.
I digress, criticising the Bond series on the basis of having poor female characterisation is like criticising Jose Mourinho for being a bit moody (see, I can do football jokes), it doesn’t matter if you say it, it’s too far gone to change anything. In the Brosnan era, the films were all about the stunts and this film is certainly… forgettable. I can’t remember a single ‘big’ moment of this film. GoldenEye in its first minutes has the jump off a dam, and even Die Another Day, for all its toxic ineptitude, is at least memorable. I am writing this review as the credits roll and I can’t remember any of the action scenes beyond I’m pretty sure there was one with a car.
Brosnan is… well, he tries. He has a decent Bond-Villain chemistry with the otherwise sleep-walking Robert Carlyle, and Sophie Marceau desperately tries to add shades to her performance but seems crushed under the weight of a hopeless situation. Only Robbie Coltrane, reprising his turn as Russian mafia head Zukovsky manages to put in what could be considered an actual ‘performance’. It’s hammy as hell but, heck, it’s genuinely entertaining and not for the wrong reasons.
Overall, I’ve maybe been a bit harsh. I mean, it’s not the worst Bond film, it’s by no means a good film but heck, it’s possibly better than Octopussy and I had to try and find positives for that but look, we’re firmly into the post-John Barry era, I can’t even use my standard get-out clause of positivity. I’d got this far into the review without focussing on the score, and that must be a new record for me. For my money, the opening credits theme is pretty good, if only it had a better film attached to it then it might just not… Dr. Christmas Fucking Jones!